How to build an off road race truck

Written by william machin
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How to build an off road race truck
Convert a stock pickup truck for off-road racing. (pickup truck image by Tonda from

You have a couple of options when building an off-road race truck. The first is a full-blown, tricked-out truck with a 7/4-lift kit, triple shocks with racing suspension and the latest of everything. The truck will be instantly competitive, but expensive to build. A more cost-effective approach is converting a stock truck to a race truck. The basic requirements are a fair amount of welding and mechanical experience, along with a shop full of tools. You can build a truck for off-road racing by converting a light or full-size truck to handle the terrain and demands of an off-road course.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Remove the seats, headliner, side windows and door panels. Detach the bed of the truck and lift it off the frame. Remove the front fenders if your plan includes fibreglass fenders. Remove the engine bonnet and the stock bonnet hinges and springs. Detach the cab of the truck and lift it off the frame.

  2. 2

    Elevate the truck on jack stands. Remove the wheels, tires and the front and rear shocks. Fabricate a tube steel roll cage that complies with the particular class requirements. Weld the roll cage to the truck frame. Weld plate steel gussets at the frame and roll cage attachment points.

  3. 3

    Fabricate upper and lower shock mounts for dual shocks at the front and rear from plate steel. Drill the shock mounts to receive the particular shocks and bolts. Weld the shock mounts in place. Install the front and rear dual shocks.

  1. 1

    Install an oversized air cleaner on the carburettor. Attach a fresh-air hose between the air cleaner and the upper tube at the rear of the roll cage. Fit an off-road air filter on the end of the fresh-air hose and secure the filter to the upper tube of the roll cage.

  2. 2

    Plumb the supply and return lines for an oil cooler. Depending on the model of the cooler, it may be necessary to drill the engine crankcase and tap for threaded fittings. Fabricate a four-point mount for the oil cooler using lightweight plate steel. Install the oil cooler and connect the supply and return lines.

  3. 3

    Remove the stock gearshift from the top of the transmission. Install an off-road quick-shifter that has shifting stops. This allows you to pop the shifting lever to the next highest or lowest gear without concern for missing a shift.

  1. 1

    Mount the cab of the truck on the frame. Fabricate seat mounts for a racing seat using plate steel. Install the racing seat. Drill the seat mounts as needed to install the safety harness with quick-release.

  2. 2

    Cut larger wheel wells in the bed of the truck for over-size rear tires. Bolt the bed on the truck and attach the rear fibreglass fenders. Attach the front fibreglass fenders.

  3. 3

    Install locking bonnet pins at the four corners of the engine compartment. Weld lightweight steel backing plates at the underside of the bonnet and drill the plates to receive the locking bonnet pins. Rework the engine bonnet to accommodate the oversized air cleaner on the carburettor. Install the engine bonnet.

  4. 4

    Mount the front and rear tires. Adjust the tire pressure as needed for the off-road course terrain. Pre-run the racecourse and adjust the shocks or tire pressure as needed for optimum handling.

Tips and warnings

  • Upgrade the electrical system with dual 12-volt batteries or a high-output alternator if you are installing off-road lights for night racing.
  • Install an electric fuel pump and an additional fuel litre.
  • Consult an off-road shop for expert advice and recommendations.
  • Wear the proper safety and protection when cutting and welding steel tubing and plate.

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